Mike Florio of profootballtalk.com checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday to discuss the Patriots in the wake of their loss to the Ravens in Sunday’s AFC championship game.
The Patriots continue to be successful in the regular season, but they have not won a Super Bowl  since 2005.
“Every NFL team is a challenge. There’s so much parity now that the gap between the best team and the worst team is narrower than ever before,” Florio said. “It’s just the reality that when you get to the postseason, it’s so intense and everybody is reaching for that brass ring. To be in the conversation every year — you think back over the last decade, there’s only one year where the Patriots haven’t qualified for the postseason, and they were 11-5 without Tom Brady  that year.
“This is a team that is consistently knocking on the door, and you get spoiled by that run of success early on. Those three Super Bowls in four years set a standard for the franchise, a standard for Bill Belichick , a standard for Tom Brady that it’s just virtually impossible to continue that. Every other ‘dynasty’ we’ve seen fades at some point not long after winning their last Super Bowl. These guys haven’t faded. They continue to hang around. They continue to get to the final four. They continue to get to the Super Bowl. The only problem is they haven’t won one in eight years and counting.”
Wes Welker , who had eight receptions for 117 yards and the lone Patriots touchdown on Sunday, again enters the offseason with uncertainty, as his contract is up.
“He falls into the category of a veteran player who’s going to have to see what else is out there before he realizes whether or not he’ll take what the Patriots are offering,” Florio said. “The risk that you take as the Patriots is that there’ll be some team that has an owner who decides to make what could be a bad football decision but what definitely is a good business decision and jump on Wes Welker for the name recognition, to have the press conference in March where you hold up the new jersey and you get people excited and you get them to buy tickets, and maybe you can also hurt a division rival if you’re the Bills, the Jets or the Dolphins — not that any of those three teams are going to go after him. But that would be the kind of formula — a team willing to spend more than the Patriots will spend and a team willing to maybe make what would be a bad decision because maybe Welker isn’t the same guy in any other offense.”
Added Florio: “Those teams that would make good football sense also have good business sense. They’re not going to go out and overpay Wes Welker. Now, the question is, would he take less money to go somewhere else? If he got to the point where he doesn’t want to play for the Patriots — I haven’t sensed that. He got paid a heck of a lot of money in 2012. He still had a good season. He’s still got some gas in the tank, but does he want to stay with the Patriots, with Tom Brady, with Bill Belichick? Nationally, people just assume that everybody in that locker room has a Super Bowl ring. Wes Welker doesn’t have one. The vast majority of those guys don’t have one, they’re still pushing for their first one, so there’s still a sense of unfinished business I would assume that Wes Welker has after completing his six seasons with the Patriots.”
During the Ravens’ 28-13 victory on Sunday, Baltimore was the more hard-hitting, physical team. Asked if the Patriots could be considered a physical team, Florio said:
“Not in comparison to the Ravens. Then again, who is in comparison to the Baltimore Ravens ? The Jets would love to be, but they just don’t the personnel to do it. The 49ers  fall into that category. I remember that Ravens-49ers game on Thanksgiving night. Even though it was only 16-6, that was just a hard-hitting game, intense game. The Seahawks  are getting close to that category. I think that teams are realizing the only way to deal with a physical NFL team is to be physical, and if you’re not, it’s going to be very difficult to beat them.”
The Ravens also appeared to make some key adjustments before the second half.
“I’d love to know more about the X’s and O’s behind the scenes, because something happened at halftime,” Florio said. “It was like Rocky switching from right hand back to southpaw, where all of a sudden the Ravens offense could do no wrong and the Patriots offense  could do no right.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page .
On Terrell Suggs ‘ comments about the Patriots being arrogant: “I think that he focuses on the top of the pyramid in Bill Belichick and one step down in Tom Brady, even though when you talk to Brady he’s a different guy. Especially defensive players who are wired to hate every quarterback, even the ones on their own team. [Brady’s] going to fall within that splash zone as well, so I think that he was talking about Belichick and Brady. It was just Suggs being Suggs. He’s just a big blowhard and he does it a lot of the time with a smile on his face and then he apologizes for it a few minutes later. He’s gotten the fun of saying whatever it is that he said.”
On Ray Lewis : “He can sustain [the intensity]. The guy gets himself so worked up and it spills over to the rest of the players. It was so obvious when he told his teammates the Wednesday before the wild card game against the Colts [about his retirement] that the timing was aimed at kicking those guys in the butt because they really limped down the stretch. They lost four out of their final five games, I believe. They were 9-3 at one point and then they started to fall apart. They just did not look like a team that was ready to succeed in the postseason. You’ve got to credit John Harbaugh , the head coach, for making what ultimately was a move of desperation in getting rid of the offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron , giving the reins to Jim Caldwell . And Caldwell, who was never an offensive coordinator in Indianapolis, he was a quarterbacks coach and then head coach, he came in there and he’s done great things with that offense. So, between the coaching move and between the Lewis retirement angle, that has carried this team. I think the 49ers are built to sustain what they’ve done the last two years a lot more than the Ravens because I think there’s a chance after this Lewis influence is gone and some of these free agents leave that the Ravens may crumble.”
On the possibility of Scott Pioli  returning to the Patriots: “I think anything’s possible. We’ve seen that dynamic of guys that were successful in New England, not successful elsewhere, come back to New England again. Look, I can speak for myself, if somebody was paying me however many millions of dollars Scott Pioli is going to get in 2013 to not work for the Chiefs, I’d be inclined to take it easy for a year and survey my options very carefully, not just jump back into a situation without really having an opportunity to think things through. It wouldn’t surprise me if we see him in TV. And the thing is that we get an image of someone based on the role that they have because the general manager, the VP of player personnel, they’re supposed to take a back seat for most of these teams. It becomes different when you’re sitting out there front and center and you finally have a chance to speak your mind.”